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Ray Pride

By Ray Pride Pride@moviecitynews.com

Czech mate: video-on-demand in Prague

In Czech Business Weekly, a reminder that not every tech or marketing evolution comes from the U S of A: Pavla Kozáková reports on a local experiment in video-on-demand online, profiling Ivo Lukačovič, who may be the Czech Republic’s answer to Mark Cuban.Lukcovic200563.jpgThe Czech Republic’s domestic online portal Seznam.cz is the top search engine rivals, besting even Google. Late in June, “the Seznam.cz portal will launch video-on-demand service Kinomania.cz, where users can for Kč 45 download a copy of a movie… for one day.” [The Beta version is up now.] [T]he company’s strategy is to stay local, adapting innovations for the Czech market, and there are no plans for international expansion for the next five years.” Lukačovič founded Seznam in 1995, after admiring Yahoo. “Despite Internet penetration in the Czech Republic being around 2% at the time, and while mostly students were using the portal, it started making money from advertisements almost overnight… “We’re a very local company and we want to stay as local as possible”… adding that the company’s strategy for the next five years is to take the best services or innovations available and adapt them for local conditions… Seznam, in cooperation with software distributor Alef Nula [launches] Kinomania, and its pilot version, at kinomania.cz, was launched May 17. Based on BitTorrent technology, which is commonly used on peer-to-peer (P2P) sites and allows users to download not only from the original kept on the server but also from other users, the Kinomania project lets clients legally download a film for viewing on a one-day basis.


The fee per download is Kč 45, a price comparable to… a video or DVD rental. “The success of the project depends on the choice of movies available,” Lukačovič said, pointing out that if the selection is limited to B-quality movies, Kinomania will be doomed… Alef Nula is in charge of the copyrights negotiations with the distributors, and so far kinomania.cz [has] over 40 films on the Web, including the Czech blockbuster comedy Snowboarders… Seznam asks clients to use its own payment system – seznam peněženka (e-wallet). Seznam launched the e-wallet this January, enabling users to deposit from Kč 100 to Kč 10,000. Currently between 20,000 and 30,000 clients use e-wallet. “We aren’t considering broadening the ways in which customers can pay for the movie,” Lukačovič said, pointing out that in order to keep the film rentals cheap the transaction fees must be minimal. Kinomania was also granted a Kč 25 million subsidy from the Ministry of Informatics as a part of the ministry’s program to support broadband penetration. Part of the sum is still pending the approval of the European Commission in June.” [Photo: Czech Business Weekly.]

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